In January the Scottish Executive attempted to put an amendment – the abolition of Section 19 – through parliament which would have made it easier to to close fire stations in Scotland. It would have given the powers to close firestations to local Fire Chiefs and Fire Authorities, rather than the Scottish Parlaiment as is the case now. They were defeated. Ray Gunnion spoke to firefighters about this issue and the prospects for the FBU dispute.
Allan Kane (Strathcylde FBU official)
"Section 19 was about giving Fire Chiefs the same power as Chief Constables and look at what has happened to police stations in rural areas. The ignorance of Labour MP’s and MSP’s and local councillors is truly amazing. One FBU national official was told by a Westminster MP that the Labour Party was helping the firefighters by getting rid of Section 19. A firefighter in Rutherglen was told by a local councillor that he did not care about the hostile reaction of firefighters because they had nobody else to vote for."
"On our pay dispute ACAS can faciliate nothing as long as the government and the Local Authority employers stick to the Bain report. Modernisation is what the Fire Service has been doing for years. We have reached 93% of our targets in modernisation and this is far in excess of other services, but that is not what the government is talking about. To them modernisation equals cuts.
Colin Mackie (Bellshill Fire Station)
"My MSP, Michael McMahon stopped at the picket line to offer his support and voted to abolish Section 19. Bellshill is a one pump station and is earmarked for closure this will mean areas like Mossend will have to be served by a station at Hamilton lenghening the response time. Anything over four minutes could well be fatal. Firefighters are angry at the governments interference to stop a deal. Bain is about total cutbacks. Cuts in staff and stations. 5,000 jobs and 150 firestations to close. Firefighters have modernised. In Sttrathclyde the trauma training taken on by us brings us virtually up to paramedic standards.
This article is from the February issue of the International Socialist, monthly paper of the International Socialists, the CWI’s section in Scotland.
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